Any counter offer for Spanish stock exchange would have to top SIX's bid: BME CEO

MADRID (Reuters) - Any counter offer for Spanish stock exchange operator BME would have to “exceed” the bid launched this week by Switzerland’s SIX, BME’s Chief Executive Javier Hernani said on Thursday.

SIX’s offer was friendly and the price was a reasonable valuation of BME, he said.

SIX and pan-European stock market operator Euronext entered a bidding war for BME on Monday, with both trying to snap up one of Europe’s last standalone stock exchanges.

SIX made an all-cash offer for BME of 34 euros per share, implying a total equity value of 2.84 billion euros ($3.1 billion), a hefty 34% premium over BME’s market capitalization of just over 2 billion euros before the offer was announced.

“Any potential new offer should improve the one from SIX and it should also improve commitments towards stability, integrity and solvency of the Spanish market, which is basically what this deal is about,” Hernani told reporters on the sidelines of a financial event.

“We obviously want the Spanish stock market, its infrastructures, its jobs, its software, its R&D, its future to be reinforced and enhanced by the offers that may emerge.”

Euronext’s Chief Executive Stephane Boujnah told French website Boursorama on Thursday that the exchange was still in talks on a possible offer for BME.

Six’s offer “has been presented in a friendly way”, Hernani said. “We think it’s an interesting offer. That is why the board welcomed both the industrial plan and the price, which reasonably reflects the value of the company.”

SIX’s CEO Jos Dijsselhof said in Madrid on Tuesday that he considered his offer for BME fair and “financially attractive” for now, without directly responding to questions on whether rival offers could lead the Swiss group to raise its bid.

Reporting by Jesús Aguado; Editing by Susan Fenton